No to Northern Gateway

This month, in fact any day now, the Federal Government will make its decision on the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  There is a strong chance that it will make this decision based on a deeply flawed report delivered by the Joint Review Panel (JRP).  A report so fraught with issues that more than 300 scientists from across Canada have taken the bold step of sending a critical analysis directly to Prime Minister Harper.  “The Canadian electorate received a ruling [by the JRP] that is not balanced or defensible,” the scientists write.  “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this report.”

black bear
An American black bear (Ursus americanus) jumping into the water of a river in the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada
© Natalie Bowes / WWF-Canada

This is a critical moment in this process and for our country.  Over the course of four years—including 77 days of JRP hearings in 21 communities and 96 days of final testimony—tens of thousands of Canadians have expressed deep concerns about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.  They have done this both as part of the formal review process and outside of it, at a grassroots level.  WWF-Canada submitted our concerns in writing to the Joint Review Panel in August 2012.
We outlined the incredible value of the Pacific North Coast’s unique, interconnected ecosystem—the Great Bear region—where river, rainforest, and sea meet.  It is impossible to quantify the cultural and spiritual benefits of conserving one of the most spectacular places on earth—a place where rare Spirit bears and fishing wolves thrive; where at-risk species of whales and caribou endure. However, the economic value is unquestionable.  The resources of the region, its free-flowing salmon rivers and cold-water seas, represent a substantial bank of natural capital that supports a strong and diverse economy including many thousands of permanent Canadian jobs.
humpback whale
The flukes of a Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) diving beneath the surface of the waters of Whale Channel, British Columbia, Canada © Tim Irvin / WWF-Canada

Simply put, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposal puts these values at too much risk. Those risks, including that of a major bitumen spill in turbulent coastal waters, outweigh any benefit this project could offer. As we told the JRP: “the risk assessment approach advanced by the proponent [Enbridge] is inadequate…the potential impacts are significantly higher than the proponent suggests.”
Unfortunately our perspective, along with thousands of others, was not included in the final report submitted by the Joint Review Panel.  According to many of Canada’s leading scientists,  the science was also ignored.  Our federal government has said repeatedly that it will only approve this project if it is proven to be safe for people and for our environment.  This flawed report proves neither. And if the voices of scientists and everyday Canadians across this country mean anything to decision-makers, they will take this moment to pause and consider what is truly in Canada’s best interest.
It is not Northern Gateway.